Why does hypokalaemia cause paralysis?

Why does hypopotassium (or hypokalemia) cause paralysis in some cases?

Authored By duy phan on Wednesday 21st November 2012

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Sunjay Parmar
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Foundation Doctor
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Posted over 7 years ago

The way I think about it...

Cells are bags of K+ (so more potassium in ICF, less in ECF)

When a cell normally repolarises, K+ moves from inside to outside of the cell to make the cell reach a negative resting membrane potential (RMP) (a

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Stephen McAleer
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Medical Student - Queens Belfast
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Posted almost 8 years ago

Hypokalaemia will decrease potassium channel conductance, which will lengthen repolarisation time of a nerve cell. If this gets to be severe enough, transmission of action potentials will be disrupted, and the result can be generalised weakness or para

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Miss Luna Ibrahim
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Medical Student - Warwick
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Posted almost 8 years ago

Potassium depletion can result in several muscular-related complications (16).

Hypokalemia can hyperpolarize skeletal muscle cells, impairing their ability to develop the depolariza­tion necessary for muscle contraction.

It can also

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Peter Calvert
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Medical Student - Lancaster
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Posted almost 8 years ago

I believe this relates to electrochemical gradients. Muscle cells depolarise primarily via sodium influx and repolarise primarily via potassium outflux.

Low potassium levels in the blood will cause a shift of intracellular potassium into the b

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